In the 1980s, the NBA was going through a transition as the league became more popular, while outside political, social, and cultural factors began to reflect in the league. The nation was facing racial tensions, and the NBA was viewed through the lens of racial biases and stereotypes. However, arguably the biggest NBA star of the 1980s proved that race wasn’t going to stop him from being great.
What is the 11th most iconic jersey of all time? According to a list compiled by SLAM Magazine, dubbed “The 75 Greatest Jerseys of All Time,” the 11th most iconic jersey of all time is the 1985-1986 Larry Bird Boston Celtics away jersey. This jersey has a green base, with white “Celtics” lettering and white numbers, and green and white collar and armpit trim. The basis of SLAM Magazine’s list comes from Mitchell & Ness, a company who manufactures licensed throwback jerseys, who released their all-time best selling list in 2021.
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Why is Larry Bird iconic?
Born and raised in rural Indiana, Larry Bird had the nation’s eyes on him since his collegiate career at Indiana State University, where he dominated and led the team to a NCAA Tournament Finals appearance. Bird was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the 6th overall pick in the 1978 NBA Draft, although he joined the NBA a year later. Bird made the Celtics an immediate contender, as they never missed the playoffs in his career. Injuries ultimately led him to retire in 1992, after 13 seasons in the NBA.
Very few can match Bird’s career accolades. Bird was winning silverware in his first season, as he won the 1980 NBA Rookie of the Year and was also named to the All-Rookie NBA First Team. By the time his career finished, he was a 3x NBA MVP (and 4x runner-up), a 3x NBA champion, and a 2x NBA Finals MVP, while also receiving 9 All-NBA First Team honors, and was voted to appear in 12 NBA All-Star Games. His career averages include 24.3 points, 10 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. Bird was also a member of the “Dream Team”, the USA national basketball team at the 1992 Olympics. Bird’s outstanding career earned him a Hall of Fame induction, while his #33 was retired by the Boston Celtics.
Larry Bird was an immaculate offensive presence, efficient inside the 3-point line and deadly outside of it. He is considered one of the greatest shooters of all-time, and was one of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history. Larry Bird was also an impressive defender and rebounder of the ball, making him an all-around star. Despite his below average athleticism and unassuming presence, Bird was incredibly confident (he is remembered as an elite trash talker), and was extremely composed under pressure. He never let his “whiteness” define him, although many saw him that way, especially outsiders who pit him against his “black” rival Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers. He is highly regarded by his peers, and is considered one of the best NBA players of all time.
Why is the 1985-1986 Larry Bird Boston Celtics away jersey iconic?
Larry Bird was at his peak in the 1985-1986 season. He was coming off the back of two straight MVPs, and 2 straight Finals appearances. Bird performed admirably that season, averaging 25.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and a career-high 2 steals per game. Bird was awarded the MVP for that season, giving him a three-peat of MVP awards, a feat that has not been replicated since. He led the Celtics in a dominant run through the playoffs, which got them to the NBA Finals. In the title-clinching game, Bird put up a triple-double, and won the NBA title as well as the NBA Finals MVP, capping off a truly iconic season.
Why is the 1985-1986 Boston Celtics away jersey iconic?
The 1985-1986 Boston Celtics away jersey has a classic yet simple design, with a green base. The “Celtics” lettering is white, along with the name and numbers. The collar trim and armpit trim also feature green and white. This is the color scheme that the Boston Celtics have kept for most of their storied history.
The Boston Celtics were at the height of their dominance going into the 1985-1986 season, despite losing in the Finals the previous year to their archrivals, the Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics had a ferocious starting five, led by Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge, and Dennis Johnson. The Celtics made a risky trade for center Bill Walton in the offseason, who had effectively been injured for the previous two seasons. However, Walton’s addition paid off, as the former MVP adjusted into his role off the bench, which earned him the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
The Celtics steamrolled their way to the top of the Eastern Conference, with a 67-15 record. Impressively, they only lost one game at home all season. In the playoffs, they swept a Chicago Bulls team led by a young Michael Jordan, then beat elite scorer Dominique Wilkins and his Atlanta Hawks, and then defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals. In the NBA Finals, the Celtics beat the Houston Rockets to win their 2nd NBA Finals in 3 years. Many people believe the 1985-1986 Boston Celtics team as one of the greatest NBA teams of all time, cementing their iconic status in basketball history.
What other iconic players wore the 1985-1986 Boston Celtics away jersey?
The 1985-1986 Boston Celtics team was stacked with Hall of Fame players and superstars. Notable players, along with Larry Bird, to wear the 1985-1986 Boston Celtics away jersey are Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Danny Ainge, Bill Walton, and Dennis Johnson.
“Larry Legend” truly is a living legend. He was a menace on the court, showcasing skill and swagger that people at the time didn’t think “white players” could have. The Bird and Magic rivalry brought great popularity to the NBA in the 1980s, factoring in the racial tensions that society projected on the two players. Bird can be considered the most iconic player to ever don the Celtics’ green jerseys.